At long last, Odin had reached the truth-speaker, Mimir, and his well. Finally, his fruitless search for knowledge would end and he would be able to prevent the prophesied war with the frost-giants and his own certain demise. Every day, he had sent his ravens Huginn and Muninn to search the thoughts and memories of mortals to report back to him, but this kind of information would only grant him so much empty solace. Of all this information about the past and the present, Odin could never know the future. But then he heard about the Well of Mimir that fed the roots of Yggdrassl, the world tree, and he would know how to prevent the end of the gods from approaching.
“Stop, Terrible One. Step no further,” Mimir spoke. “The well will share nothing unless you are willing to make a sacrifice.”
Though Mimir was charged with the care of this well, Odin was not in the mood to be held by the likes of him. “I am willing as I have ever been, Mimir. Step aside.”
Mimir looked Odin straight in the eye and saw his conviction. “Very well,” he said, and left the well-path open to the king of all things.
Odin stuck up his chin at the man. He was no warrior and did not deserve Odin’s respect. All the same, Odin felt discomfort around a god who knew more than he did. Still, he ignored Mimir’s stares in light of his final destination.
Odin closed one eye, then peeked into the well and he knew the sacrifice at once. It was not just his eye, which burned from his socket immediately, but he lost whatever ignorance he may have lived with peacefully until his end. He saw Heimdall who put his ear to the well and lost it just as Odin did, though he knew what to listen for and when to blow his horn when the end, Ragnarok, began to tremble the very roots of Yggdrassl. He saw his son Thor, poisoned to death in a great battle with the world-eater, the serpent Nidhoggr. His wife, millions of mortals, and many other gods burned to cinders by Surt’s sword of fire. He witnessed an entire ship of the dead crawl out from the land of the dead, craftily made out of their own fingernails. His son Baldr led the morbid entourage.
At the end of his visions, he foresaw his own death by the jaws of the great wolf Fenrir. Thor tore its jaws apart to free him but it was too late. Odin was dead. In seeing all this, his death and the death of many others, Odin finally understood. There was no way to stop his own death, no way to alter what events had already led and would lead to this moment. All he could do was face his death honorably and without fear. Odin looked back at Mimir, back into the face of the god called “wise” and Mimir looked back into the great bleeding hole that was Odin’s eye. For just a brief moment, Mimir winced at the cavernous emptiness in Odin’s skull and Odin could do nothing but laugh, for the god who claimed to be wise already knew what Odin knew, but he still did not know how to look death in the eye.
The blood leaked down into Odin’s mouth and the blood sprayed as he spoke. His teeth were stained red. “Keep the eye, Mimir. That little bit of flesh is the least I can do for such a sad being.” He tore a bit of cloth from his sleeve and tied it to hide his eye from the sight of others. The gods would all know soon enough the face of death.